Of course, your knowledge of what is available to you is limited to ‘unrealistic’ jobs, like an astronaut or pilot, actor, singer, or dancer, to the traditionally ‘professional’ roles of a teacher, a fire fighter, a police officer, a doctor or lawyer. Whatever you say to your elders at this point is likely to be met with encouragement. This kid has ambition, they think, and who am I to crush their dreams with the harsh realities of working life…and if you were a really intuitive kid you may have noticed how they stared off wistfully into the nothingness of their old dreams, but probably, intuitive or not, you had already turned back to the amazing game you just made up, living the life of imagination and magic, owning a business, building forts or clubs, making perfume with roses, painting your next abstract number or writing a play (that you will also star in later of course!).
Fast forward a few years and the pressure starts. The teachers say you must have an idea; you think you have no idea. Your parents are worried you’ll end up on the dole; you’re worried you’ll end up like them. Your friends all seem to know where they are going; you want to go and hide under the duvet.
Fast forward a few more years – you followed the traditional path, the path you ‘should have’ taken (according to those who came before you, instilling their fears of the harsh reality of life onto you). You did pretty well actually, so why don’t you feel fulfilled? You earn OK, you manage to live and socialise, so why then do you still think you are searching for that moment, the aforementioned ‘light bulb moment’?
The truth of the matter is that a career is anything you want it to be. Gone are the days of staying in one profession until you are retired for that gold watch photo opportunity, but with so many new opportunities comes overwhelm. If you are feeling unfulfilled and restless, confused and frustrated it’s time to start getting clear…because this is definitely not the life you ordered when you were younger.
This week I met a girl who didn’t want my advice, she was sixteen and had plenty of support from those who know her. She had a love of horticulture and a plan to study it one day, just for fun, but for now it was all about law because this was a more ‘sensible’ career choice. When I asked her if she would want to work in horticulture she replied, no, it would probably get boring just weeding after a while. Internally I scratched my head with a puzzled frown, because I know about the opportunities and scope to expand in the sector that goes far beyond ‘weeding’. The decision had been made, for now, and it was made a long time ago so it becomes too scary to unmake it…even at sixteen. But it’s never too late. Understanding what is truly driving us, motivating us, filling us up and fuelling our passions may be just another hobby we don’t have time for as we focus on getting the grades or bringing in an income but we can choose to make changes anytime.
In a picturesque small town to the east of the Brecon Beacons lives a quietly inspiring lady named Lynne Allbutt, not only the first person to run the width of Wales barefoot but someone who walks her talks, baring all in her auto-biography (and in fund-raising calendars) and a BBC presenter to boot with some awe-inspiring celebrity interviews under her belt. ‘” When anyone asked what I did, I would cheerfully reply, “which day are you interested in?”’ she says.
What is special about Lynne’s success is that it is all linked to her deep love and respect of the great outdoors. Whilst she left school under a cloud of limited attendance and a challenging home life, she maintained an entrepreneurial focus that kept her moving forward.
Lynne craved independence and didn’t take no for an answer, she knocked on doors and picked up odd jobs, gradually building up to running her own garden design business. The opportunities that presented just because she was, and still is, following her passion were seemingly limitless. Lynne wrote “Let go of your fear and risk finding happiness. I believe we are taught to attain and retain. We are taught to work hard to get those qualifications, that job, spouse, house and then work harder to keep it all.” She says ‘“It only takes a second to change your mind, a few seconds to change your belief and those shifts will change your entire life. Choose to be happy. Choose to follow your dream. Choose it now.”’
Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air and remind yourself of who you are and who you want to be.
Some excerpts taken from ‘When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Giraffe – the career guide for not so grown ups’ - taking you back to who you used to be to help reignite your passions.